Sunday, October 25, 2020
Home Opinions RTI Amendment Bill 2019 and the fake charade of Shashi Tharoor

RTI Amendment Bill 2019 and the fake charade of Shashi Tharoor

BJP sources say that the commitment of Modi government to strengthen the RTI Act is manifest in the fact that it has introduced the 24-hour portal and a mobile App for convenience of filing RTI anytime, 24 hours, 365 days in a year.

Andimuthu Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) calls it “a dark day for democracy.” Shashi Tharoor of the Congress sees it as a bid to remove “the two greatest armours of institutional independence” and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, views it as an attack on “our democratic right to information.” Serious isn’t it. Who doesn’t know Raja or Tharoor or Chowdhury. I mean we all have heard of 2G licenses,  Sunanda Pushkar and “gandi naali (drainage)” slur. They are our much-in-news parliamentarians who today have hogged our newspapers for faking their concern on the amendments to the Right To Information (RTI) Act 2019.

On Monday, Lok Sabha trembled to their din on the amendment to the RTI Act, 2005. As per the amendment, the Information Commissioners (ICs) will have terms and salaries decided by the Centre, instead of being on par with those of Election Commissioners. Tharoor bristled with rage: “Are you bringing this amendment because an IC asked the PMO to reveal the PM’s educational details?” Chowdhary found it an attempt to “keep tab on the Commission and kill its freedom.” NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party (never mind if you haven’t heard of him) is convinced the amendment is an attempt to benefit the Central government.

All this for defining the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners?

So, here are the facts. The RTI Amendment Bill 2019 in no way compromises the autonomy or independence of RTI Act 2005. The amendment leaves Section 12(4) of the Act, which ensures autonomy and independence of the Act, untouched.  The appointment of Information Commissioners (Section 12.3) is also not tampered with.

Now to the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners.  The present amendment bill seeks to amend section 27 of RTI Act 2005 which doesn’t define the tenure and terms of conditions for the ICs in its present form!!! Does clearing “ambiguity” on RTI Act sound like a “dark day for Indian democracy” to you?

As per the RTI Act 2005, chief information commissioner is equal to Chief Election Commissioner and there by equal to a Supreme Court judge. Similarly, the state Chief Commissioner is equal to election commissioner and thereby equal to Supreme Court judge.

This itself is an anomaly, considering the fact that Election Commission is a statuary body while Supreme Court and Election Commission are constitutional bodies.

The other contradiction is that CIC and state information commissioners enjoy the status of Supreme Court judge but the verdict passed is liable to be challenged in the High Court.  The present bill seeks to correct this anomaly.  Besides this amendment hasn’t originated from the government alone but also held by several sections of society and judiciary.

For example, the Rajiv Garg vs UOI Supreme Court judgment of 2013 directed that decision be taken on uniformity of service condition of various tribunals. Similarly, the Second Reform Commission in its 13threport of April 2009 also recommended that there is need for greater uniformity in service conditions. The recent judgment of high court of Kerala states that the Chairman and member of the CAT do no occupy the exalted position of the judge of high court merely because they are given the same benefits.

The present amendment merely is enabling legislation which will authorize the government to frame the rules by amending Section 27 and to deliberate upon the tenures and terms of Central and State Information Commission through Section 13 and Section 16 of the RTI Act 2005. The amendment would further streamline and institutionalize the RTI Act and further facilitate its delivery.

BJP sources say that the commitment of Modi government to strengthen the RTI Act is manifest in the fact that it has introduced the 24-hour portal and a mobile App for convenience of filing RTI anytime, 24 hours, 365 days in a year.

The present government has also implemented Section 4 of RTI Act whereby suo motto (on its own) information is now available on all the government websites even without having to file an RTI to seek information.

The leader of the largest opposition party (read Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress) is also a member of the selection committee when there is no recognized member of opposition in Lok Sabha.

And for all this good, Shashi Tharoor calls it a RTI Elimination Bill.

Said a BJP source: “Those who have vested interest in using RTI as a tool of blackmail are making motivated allegations against the RTI Amendment Bill 2019 which are totally unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

Oh is it? RTI as a tool of blackmail? So next time you read screaming headlines in the Indian Express or The Hindu or Times of India or Hindustan Times or any other Indian daily curse the mugger who might have gained behind this charade of “scrutiny” for public good.

Meanwhile, the RTI Amendment Bill was passed with 218 “yes” and 79 “no” in Lok Sabha on Monday.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Ashish Shuklahttp://ashishshukla.net/
Author of "How United States Shot Humanity", Senior Journalist, TV Presenter

Related Articles

Trending now

India Today releases a squint eyed statement, pats itself in the back for paying Rs 5 L to the court in TRP manipulation case,...

India Today has released a statement on the current TRP scam and it makes no sense.

“Allah will burn this woman in Hell”, Islamists attack TMC leader Nusrat Jahan for participating in Durga Puja

"You are the descendant of Satan -Evil. Don't you feel any shame for doing such dirty things?" an extremist commented on Nusrat Jahan for participating in Durga Pujo.

Times Now asked to air apology to Rahul Gandhi fangirl Sanjukta Basu for calling her ‘Hindu hater’, “We won”, she tweets

The directive to Times Now comes 19 months after Basu had filed a complaint with the NBSA.

Pakistan: Hindu temple vandalised during Navratri, idol of Hinglaj Mata broken by miscreants in Sindh

While taking cognisance of the despicable incident, the Sindh police have assured that they would nab the miscreants soon for vandalising the Hindu temple.

Maharashtra Police arrests Twitter user Sameet Thakkar over ‘Baby Penguin’ remark against Aaditya Thackeray

Twitter user Sameet Thakkar from Nagpur has been arrested for posting derogatory tweets against the Thackerays.

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari insults Shivraj Singh Chouhan while boasting of Kamal Nath’s industrialist friends

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari while addressing a rally in Mandhata referred to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Kamal Nath's 'pair ki dhool' (unworthy).

Recently Popular

‘He supplies drugs and girls’: Estranged wife of Mahesh Bhatt’s nephew Luviena Lodh alleges harassment by nephew-uncle duo

Luviena Lodh said that Mahesh Bhatt is the don of the industry, and he controls everything that goes on in the film industry

France: Charlie Hebdo cartoons projected on government building to express solidarity with deceased teacher who was beheaded by Islamic terrorist

Days after the barbaric beheading of teacher Samuel Paty on the streets of Paris by a terrorist for showing the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad to his students, support continues to pour in for the deceased teacher.

Radio Mirchi RJ finds space with radical preacher Zakir Naik as she waters down terms like ‘Kafir’ and ‘Jihad’

A video featuring Radio Mirchi RJ Sayema is doing rounds on the internet in which she was seen normalising anti-Hindu bigotry by legitimising the usage of radical Islamic terms as 'Kafir' and 'Jihad'.

‘Encounter specialist’ cop facing murder charges and reinstated by Param Bir Singh had joined Shiv Sena

Sachin Vaze, Pradeep Sharma, who were both 'encounter specialist' cops facing murder charges, were close to Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh

Faisal Khan says he wants to come out of brother Aamir Khan’s shadow who had earlier called him ‘mentally ill’

Faisal Khan said he will have to break out of his superstar brother's shadow and make his own decisions so that people recognise him as an individual

Exclusive: Conversation that shows how Mumbai Police is trying to coerce witness into naming Republic TV in TRP scam

While Hansa Research report and the FIR filed named India Today in TRP scam, in less than 24 hours, Mumbai Police had seemingly made up its mind that Republic TV was the culprit
- Advertisement -

Xitler: Activists campaign to shift the 2022 Winter Olympics away from China, pointing out how Hitler had used the 1936 games to promote himself

Hashtag #MoveTheGames is trending on Twitter to urge organizers to move venue for Winter Olympics 2022 out of China

India Today releases a squint eyed statement, pats itself in the back for paying Rs 5 L to the court in TRP manipulation case,...

India Today has released a statement on the current TRP scam and it makes no sense.

News Broadcasters Association asks Republic journalists not to cross ‘Lakshman Rekha’, says their journalism is toxic and unethical

NBA issues statement in Mumbai Police-Republic TV clash, says it does on agree with the channel while paying lip service to freedom of speech

“Allah will burn this woman in Hell”, Islamists attack TMC leader Nusrat Jahan for participating in Durga Puja

"You are the descendant of Satan -Evil. Don't you feel any shame for doing such dirty things?" an extremist commented on Nusrat Jahan for participating in Durga Pujo.

Times Now asked to air apology to Rahul Gandhi fangirl Sanjukta Basu for calling her ‘Hindu hater’, “We won”, she tweets

The directive to Times Now comes 19 months after Basu had filed a complaint with the NBSA.

Pakistan: Hindu temple vandalised during Navratri, idol of Hinglaj Mata broken by miscreants in Sindh

While taking cognisance of the despicable incident, the Sindh police have assured that they would nab the miscreants soon for vandalising the Hindu temple.

Maharashtra Police arrests Twitter user Sameet Thakkar over ‘Baby Penguin’ remark against Aaditya Thackeray

Twitter user Sameet Thakkar from Nagpur has been arrested for posting derogatory tweets against the Thackerays.

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari insults Shivraj Singh Chouhan while boasting of Kamal Nath’s industrialist friends

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari while addressing a rally in Mandhata referred to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Kamal Nath's 'pair ki dhool' (unworthy).

Dear Rahul Gandhi, time to go to Baran to fight for justice of those minor girls whose rape was denied by Rajasthan CM

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had denied the Baran rape case saying that the victims had gone with the culprits willingly

Meet Sachin Vaze, the ‘encounter specialist’ cop leading the investigation against Arnab Goswami who was once suspended for custodial murder

Sachin Vaze was suspended from the police force over the custodial death of a 27-year-old software engineer in 2003

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
468,117FollowersFollow
19,200SubscribersSubscribe